THE NIGHT IS SHORT, WALK ON GIRL
released 4 OctOber 15 | 93 minutes
Director Masaaki Yuasa Cast Gen Hoshino, Kana Hanazawa, Hiroyuki Yoshino, Keiji Fujiwara
Anime it may be, but this offbeat film feels remarkably close to one of the urbane comedy-fantasy books by Terry Pratchett or Tom Holt. It’s a series of beguilingly weird and madcap adventures set in the venerable Japanese city of Kyoto, drawn in an artfully loose, whimsical style.
Over a very long night, a hapless young man encounters divinities, magic books, fairytale feasts and rogue theatre companies. All the while he’s chasing a heroically unflappable girl who’d impress Pratchett’s Granny Weatherwax. This is a Japanese A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with some of the libidinally-frustrated farce of Scorsese’s After Hours. Bits of the comedy feel Python-esque (there’s even a silly walk), but it’s still nearer Pratchett than Terry Gilliam.
The film is linked to an earlier anime serial, The Tatami Galaxy. It’s not a sequel, and the main characters are new, but there are enough crossover jokes and walk-ons to make it like one of the later Discworld novels. It’s accessible to newcomers, but they won’t get all the gags, even if they can keep up with the subtitles. There are other issues, like a saggy ending that’s more of an overlong coda, but this remains highly enjoyable, if very unusual. Andrew Osmond